Re "Cyclists take to car-free streets," April 11
To all the police officers, traffic officers and city transportation and maintenance employees who, along with scores of volunteers, got up early on a Sunday morning: Thanks upon thanks for making the second CicLAvia possible.
Working together, you opened up our beautiful city in ways that I, on my inline skates, had never before experienced and gave me a morning full of memories I will never forget. I felt like part of something very big.
For this one day, our City of Angels basked in the glow of public employees and passionate volunteers joining forces to give our city a much-needed feeling of community.
It's ironic to me that the city had to completely shut down traffic on several streets to accommodate CicLAvia. Is this not an admission that automobiles and bicycles don't mix?
The City Council needs to accept this simple fact before committing millions of dollars to build special lanes for bicycles.
Dealing in Washington
Re "Budget deal averts shutdown," April 9
Our geniuses in Washington trimmed $38 billion out of a $1.65-trillion deficit for 2011. If our acclaimed "budget deal" is put into comprehensible (household) numbers, here's
how $38 billion cut from $1.65 trillion would compare:
* That $16,500 price for a used truck is reduced by $38. Balance due: $16,462.
* That $1,650 credit card bill is reduced by $3.80. Balance due: $1,646.20.
* That $165 electricity bill is cut by 38 cents. Balance due: $164.62.
We'd all laugh at these "cuts" being cuts at all, let alone "draconian." Our politicians had better lay out this elementary math before our country isn't worth one red cent.
What the Democrats won: a temporary timeout in the far right's continuing assault on women's health and the environment. What the GOP won: a major round in its battle to make poor Americans poorer, rich Americans richer and the middle class nonexistent.
Budget deal? Mugging is more like it.
It is past time for the clowns in Washington to get down to the business of governing this country.
The latest dog-and-pony show is a joke. It simply gave them a chance to grandstand and make statements they hope will end up as sound bites. I seriously doubt that there was ever any intention of shutting down the government, but they were able to scare a lot of people.
As far as I am concerned: A plague on both your houses.
Re "Abortion debate resurfaces," April 9
The use of women's bodies as the bargaining tool in the budget debate is akin to the use of rape as an instrument of war. Who suffers? Who has a say? How nasty can it get? And we're getting way too close to more than an analogy when the word "rape" can be redefined and excluded from treatment, as desired by some hard-line thugs.
This is beyond an ideological debate; it as an act of forced submission and brutality on one's personhood.
When I joined the Los Angeles Police Department in 1959, there was an abortion unit within the homicide division. The only women who were investigated were those from low-income families who usually were the victim of botched procedures in back-alley operations. Women of means continued to receive abortions from qualified physicians and were never the subject of an investigation.
It is time to put this issue to rest rather than return to the brutal and unfair practices of the past.
Rating the governor
Re "Gov. Brown's first 100 days," Column, April 7
George Skelton says that Gov. Jerry Brown made his biggest mistake when he promised during his campaign to give voters to final say over any tax increases. True, but now the Republicans have given the ball free and clear back to Brown by refusing to deal responsibly and honestly.
All Brown has to do is say, "I made that promise and I tried to fulfill it, but the Republicans refused to allow the vote, so we are going to renew the taxes and try to save the state on our own." We save the cost of the election, we save community colleges and we save some of our safety net for our most needy. And we get a California that might have a reasonable budget and just might stay a good place to live.
In New York, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has managed to balance his state's badly fractured budget without raising taxes. He cut school aid and Medicaid. He blocked a tax on the "rich," and he did so with the concurrence of Republicans.
Skelton gives Brown a "B." I'd say a much better grade is "incomplete" until California's governor learns that any tax increase now is unacceptable and that even the most liberal governors can balance a budget by simply chopping away at some sacred cows.
Re "There's a fix for medical bill ills," Business,
In regard to David Lazarus' column on heavily discounted hospital bills, I would like to add an observation. In the example of Robert Hsu's bill being discounted from $266,000 to $42,000, nothing is made of the tragic reality this practice has on the uninsured.
Substitute an unemployed teacher or carpenter no longer able to afford insurance or qualify for Medicaid, and you will often have a financial tragedy. He will have no discount contract with the hospital, too often being forced to pay in full. I have no doubt that this way of doing business is one of the most common causes of personal bankruptcy filings.
And it wouldn't take something as serious as open-heart surgery to set this tragedy in motion. A ruptured appendix in your child would do the job as well.
Allen Newton, MD
Lake Arrowhead, Calif.
Re "Search effort faulted in death," April 7
The tragic death of hiker Joe Le should serve as a reminder that the San Gabriel Mountains are a rugged and dangerous wilderness. This is no park. There are no lifeguards on duty and no barricades to keep people from falling off cliffs or being swept away in a river. When we enter these mountains, there is an acknowledgement that only our good judgment and experience will protect us and that society has no obligation to come to our immediate rescue should we fail.
Wilderness helps rejuvenate our souls and gives us an opportunity to find meaning in our lives. But it carries risks that we must understand and anticipate.
Both are juicy
Re "It's Five Guys vs. In-N-Out," Business, April 8
As a Southern Californian native and burger connoisseur, I call the battle between Five Guys and In-N-Out a draw.
Yes, the Cajun fries, hand-formed patties grilled to juicy perfection, free peanuts and loads of possible toppings lure me into Five Guys frequently. But if you're low on cash and you just have to have a shake with your burger, only In-N-Out can scratch that itch.
It's apples and oranges, and I'm thrilled to have my pick between the two.